ZIZI AND THE GOAT TREE is a 400 word humorous, rhyming picture book, inspired by the real tree goats of Morocco.
Zizi, a young goat, aspires to be a member of the prestigious tree climbing team. A contest is coming up, but because Zizi is a girl — and quite small and slightly wobbly — she is discouraged from even competing. Will Zizi be feisty enough to rise above?
The Author's Note includes factual information and images. I am a member of the SCBWI and worked as a journalist in the Middle East.
This sounds great! I love this twist on the story of an underdog (or rather, undergoat)--can't say I've ever come across this idea in a picture book before. It seems to me to have a great blend of kookiness and universality.
The goat tree picture has been floating around social media. Good work coming up with a PB angle.
Two thoughts - Is Zizi a Moroccan name? If so, does the name's meaning have significants to the story? Second, I suggest cutting the question at the end of your pitch. Instead, let us know what's at stake. What if Zizi never climbs up the tree?
This is a great subject for a pb! I hope you'll post in the 250 word forum so we can read some of it. The concept should definitely get an editor's attention. I think your query will be stronger if you clarify a couple of things: is the book about her trying to make the team or entering the competition? Can she compete without being on a team? Is the fact that she's a girl relevant? Or is it her small size and un-coordination that work against her? Why does she even want to be on the team? Why, for that matter, do the goats climb the trees!! How crazy is that! Love it! Good luck - Jacquie
What a great and unique idea for a PB. Goats are adorable and wild and fun- the perfect characters for a PB. I also like how you've incorported Zizi having to overcome being young and wobbly- very relatable to your target market!
Hi Manju! I'll experiment with cutting the rhetorical question out and making the stakes more apparent — thanks for the suggestions. And yes, Zizi, is a relatively common nickname in the Arab world. In this case, Zizi is short for Aziza, which in Arabic typically means cherished, as well as mighty and powerful. All three traits reflect and are important to Zizi's character and journey.
Great points jjsewell, thanks! Will make it clear that the reason goats climb trees is to eat the argan tree fruit. As an aside, the goats then poop out the indigestible fruit seeds, which are then used to create argan oil, an expensive cosmetic ingredient. This process is explained in the Author's Note.
However, I made a conscious decision to center the story, not on the search for fruit, but on the impressive athletic prowess of the goats.
Will also clarify that the winners of the tree climbing contest win spots on the team. Thanks for helping me make that better.
Hi henryherz! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Yes, I have read that rhyme is not always welcome or sought after. With this in mind, I have also written the story in prose. Ultimately, I feel like the rhymes serve the story better. Hoping for the best! Enjoy the rest of WriteOn.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Shanah! Love your comparison and would like to think that Ferdinand and Zizi would be great friends. They both resist conforming to societal norms and are true to themselves.
Post by sillylibrarian on Feb 2, 2017 12:06:34 GMT -5
Oh, I'm so glad that you wrote this book! I just recently saw a "Goat Tree" calendar, and I was completely tickled. I'd never heard of that before, and the images were so fun. Immediately, I thought that'd make a fantastic picture book idea. I agree with the comments about considering taking out the rhetorical question and maybe putting less emphasis on the fact she's a girl. I love the name Zizi... but am wondering if it'd work better if you took her name out of the title. THE GOAT TREE pops out as an intriguing title. I'd love to read this!
Very cool premise, although I wondered if the climbing goats really are exclusive of females. If they are, I would note that in the query. I would include more information about what you did on the Middle East and your interaction with climbing goats, or people's feelings towards climbing goats.
Cool concept. I agree with others that the what is at stake is missing. Have you ever thought about writing NF version of this story? I ask because what a cool topic (I run Storytime and I could see the kids getting a kick out of a story with tree goats!).